RIPOFF



 Prison manufacturing is big business—About $800,000,000 a year and that is true! 

A plan to embezzle millions was going just fine until the mistake was made of hiring three savvy women and the red flags went up. When they suspect something is afoot, the trio takes things into their own hands by staging an undercover investigation that while successful, is more like bumbling Charlie's Angels. 

Join Kimberly, Cameron and Kate as they unravel the twists and turns in this clever crime caper and suspicion turns into danger, surprise and unexpected results. The authors both have experience with marketing furniture manufactured in federal prisons and this book could not have been written without that knowledge. Some of the scenes are inspired by things that really happened, and while it is fiction, every detail was carefully thought out to create a clever scam that actually could have worked in real life.


EXCERPT FROM RIPOFF
                                                           

                                                                       ~1~
My rolling suitcase hit the marble reception room floor with a solid thwack. Everywhere I looked, employees wept, swore or raced around like hamsters in a wheel.

This couldn’t be the efficient office I’d left only five days ago. It was more like a disaster scene in a movie. What could have created this chaos while I was at the National Software Conference in Portland?

Normally I would have taken a cab from SeaTac Airport to my home, then picked up my car before going to the office, but on this particular day I couldn’t wait to flash my Woman of the Year trophy. All the way to the office I’d pictured a grand welcome from my staff, and saw myself basking in the expected glory.
I managed to suspend my shock long enough to say to the receptionist, “Bonnie, what happened? Has everyone gone nuts?”

She choked out, “Th-the door. Didn’t you see the notice on the door?” She swiped at a river of tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t. What notice?”

She pointed toward the entry doors. “Out there.”

I hurried into the hall. How had I missed the bright yellow notice taped to one of the elegant dark mahogany doors? 

Under Jurisdiction of
U.S. BANKRUPTCY COURT –
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
Access to Premises Prohibited After 5:00 pm, June 21, 2013

The words “U.S. Bankruptcy Court and Access Prohibited” sent a chill down my spine. June 21? That’s today!

Everything within me went icy cold. How could this possibly be? We were a big company, respected in the industry. I’d just been honored at a trade convention. We couldn’t be bankrupt.

Back in the office Bonnie and our controller Harold Spacklemeyer were in complete meltdown. Harold paced in front of the reception station mumbling obscenities in a manner totally out of character for the mild-mannered little man. He looked like he had aged fifteen years during the five days I’d been gone.
His hands fluttered wildly. “Kimberly, thank goodness you’re back. It’s Armageddon—Armageddon, I tell you! That bastard CEO of ours is gone—vanished—nowhere to be found.” He struggled to take a few shaky breaths.

I patted Harold’s arm. “Of course Steve is gone. He’s on vacation. Remember?”

He shook his head like a sad bobble-head doll. “Some vacation! That light-fingered crook drained the company of every friggin’ dollar and disappeared.” Harold made a few hacking noises in his throat, then tugged at his polka dot bowtie as though loosening it would help him breathe. Finally he yanked it off in a fit of nerves and threw it on the floor.

“Harold, slow down. This can’t be true.” My voice was calm while my heart did a drum solo.
 “Oh, but it is. Steve skipped out and left a mountain of debt and unpaid salaries. Oh, and the checks for health insurance and payroll tax? Well, they bounced.”

“That’s simply not possible. We keep those funds separate in a trust account. Pull yourself together, okay?”
Between my spinning head and thumping heart, I was a mess. This bankruptcy nonsense had to be a mistake.

His voice smoothed out. “You’re right. There should have been more than enough to cover everything, so I checked all of our bank accounts. Somehow he managed to drain the trust account and the balance in every other one was a big, fat zero. He—took—every—friggin’—dollar.” Color drained from his face turning it a scary grayish shade.

“Please, Harold, take some deep breaths. You’re beginning to frighten me. Look, everything was fine when I left. You know that. What you’re saying sounds crazy.”

He flopped down on one of the reception room sofas. After a few moments his color returned to normal. “I called and called, but his phone just rang. No answer, no voicemail. The next day I got a recording saying his cell phone was disconnected. So was his home phone. After that I called you over and over, but all I got was voice mail. Why didn’t you call me back?”

Poor Harold looked like a whipped puppy. “For God’s sake, Kimberly, listen to me. This is very serious. Oh, he knew about this bankruptcy and the pending audit, alright. The—man—is—not—on—vacation!”
His words finally penetrated my addled brain. “Wait a minute. What do you mean audit?”

“A team of them showed up on Thursday. From what one fellow said, I guess the company had been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a while. Apparently Mr. Slick has been draining money from all the accounts for the past several months and finally took every remaining dollar before he pulled his disappearing act. I have no idea how Steve managed to do that, and I couldn’t get them to tell me anything else.” He paled again.

I prayed he wasn’t having a heart attack. Of course I’d heard of schemes that involved “cooked” books. Who hasn’t? Apparently Steve knew his way around shady finances a lot better than I’d ever have given him credit for.


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